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Wednesday, 19 October 1910


Senator READY (Tasmania) .- I have listened attentively, and without interjecting save once, to the contribution of my honorable colleague to this debate. I need scarcely say that I disagree with most of the arguments which he has advanced. I hope that I shall discuss the Bill from a public stand-point, and without unnecessary warmth. This tax is in accordance with a principle which I advocated on the hustings previous to the 13th April last. It is in accordance with a principle which I was sent here to advocate on the floor of the Senate. I made no secret about the matter. I fought the campaign throughout, as did my colleagues, on the question of land reform, putting this in the forefront of my platform. We considered that in the interests of Tasmania, the question required solution at the hands of the Federal Parliament more than any other question. It has been stated by the Leader of the Opposition that the public did not quite understand this tax when we were on the hustings. I consider that the public clearly understood what was meant, and they gave us a mandate.


Senator Millen - I think they did understand what was meant.


Senator READY - The honorable senator therefore has little cause of complaint on that score. We were pledged to propose this tax.


Senator Millen - I did not complain orb that ground.


Senator READY - Senator Millen inferred that this tax imposed by the Federal Parliament would necessitate the States only taxing land up to ?5,000 in value. I told my constituents that such was not the case.


Senator Millen - I did not say that the States would not go beyond ?5,000.


Senator READY - I stated clearly that the Federal tax was to be a super-tax, and' I advocated it as such.


Senator Millen - There are members of the honorable senator's party who said that there would not be any duplication in land' taxation.


Senator READY - That my view of the matter is well supported can be seenfrom a statement made by the Premier of Tasmania, Sir Elliot Lewis, in his Budget speech, as reported a few days ago. Hedealt with this very point, and said -

It lias been argued that, as the Federal land' tax will only be imposed on properties of ?5,000- unimproved value and over, the State should' not impose a tax upon such properties. This argument is based upon Section 109 of the Constitution, which provides that when a law of a. State is inconsistent with a law of the Commonwealth, the former is, to the extent of the inconsistency, invalid. I do not think that tinsargument can prevail. When we accepted theConstitution we gave the Federal Parliament the widest power of taxation ; but it was never then expected that this power would be exercised except in cases of extreme necessity, such as, fortunately, have not yet arisen in Australia. It was at all times contemplated that the power of imposing direct taxation would be retained by the States, to enable them to carry out thelarge and important functions left in their hands.

Sir ElliotLewis further said ; because the Federal Parliament has seen fit teenier the arena of State taxation and to superimpose a Federal land tax on top of the State land tax. it does not follow that the State should be deprived of its proper revenue from the samesource.


Senator Millen - That confirms what I said to-day, that between the two taxesthere would be nothing left for the landowner.


Senator READY - On those lines a tax. has been proposed by die Tasmanian Parliament, as described by Senator Cameron. For the first time in that State it is now proposed to tax the unimproved value of land. This new tax is going to raise considerably more revenue than did the tax formerly imposed. The former tax realized ?59,000. The new tax on unimproved? values is going to raise £71,000. Instead of being a property tax, it is to be a land tax pure and simple.


Senator Givens - It is doubtful whether the tax will bring in anything like that amount of money, if it has the effect of bursting up the big estates.


Senator READY - The tax starts at id. in the £1, and goes up to 2 1/2d.


Senator Givens - The revenue will disappear as the big estates are burst up.


Senator READY - Perhaps so. But though some of the large land-holders and the land loafers will be compelled to pay more taxation, I do not think that the landusers will' pay more. The extra money to be obtained from land taxation will not be obtained from the industrious man who uses his land, but from those who keep their land idle, or use it for purely pastoral purposes. Let me give an instance which I mentioned during my election campaign. A man who owns land next to a large estate paid on a value of ,£120 per acre. Only a fence divides his land from an estate which paid only on a value of £4 odd per acre. The industrious man had put an orchard of fruit and a crop oT hops upon his land, and was taxed to the extent of £120, whilst the land loafer on the other side of the fence paid only on £4 per acre. That occurred in Tasmania under the old system.


Senator Rae - Can the honorable senator name the estate?


Senator READY - I am alluding to the Lawrenny estate, Hamilton, Tasmania. The man who paid on a value of £120 per acre was Mr. William Hills, of Hamilton. What we want to do, as I pointed out to the electors of Tasmania, is to tax the large land-holder in the same proportion as the small one. We contended that as the State Government had failed to do this, the task was left for the Federal. Parliament. In the past the big land-holders have escaped their just dues to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds. We are now going to make up for lost time, and acquire some of the arrears. I am sorry that Senator Cameron, when speaking to-night, did not mention his own estate as an example, but as I have the figures relating to it I shall endeavour to supply the information.


Senator Lt Colonel Cameron - The honorable senator is quite at liberty to do that if he likes. I do not care to be personal at any time, and try to avoid mentioning my own affairs.


Senator READY - I have no intention of being personal, and should be sorry to say anything in this chamber that could be so regarded. I am dealing with this matter solely from the point of view of public policy, and hope that I shall never approach any question in the Senate from any other point of view.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould -Does the honorable senator propose to bring the private affairs of a member of this Senate into the debate?


Senator READY - I am going to mention an instance. Senator Cameron has given a number of Tasmanian cases. I shall give one more.


Senator Millen - The honorable senator might have mentioned the facts without mentioning the name. We do not generally discuss one another's private affairs hero.


Senator READY - If I am doing anything wrong I shall be glad to be corrected, but I am not aware that I am saying anything that is contrary to the rules of the Senate.


Senator Pearce - At the last election the Opposition party took photographs of some of our houses and exhibited them all over the country.


Senator Millen - We did not bring up the private affairs of our opponents in this Parliament.


Senator READY - I have a lively recollection of seeing the pictures of which Senator Pearce refers, and which were circulated throughout the country. I do not intend to quote the figures relating to Senator Cameron's estates from a personal point of view. I give them simply as an illustration. Surely I have a right to do that.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - It is purely a matter of taste.


Senator READY - I find that the honorable senator's properties in Tasmania are very large. In fact, I think that, according to the latest valuation, they comprise about £140,000 worth of land.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - I rise to order. I wish to ask whether the honorable senator is in order in alluding in debate to another honorable senator's private affairs? What I understand the honorable senator proposes to do is to quote figures as to the possessions of another member of the Senate,- and to draw some conclusion from them. I wish to know whether he is in order in alluding to the private possessions and the private business of a member of the Senate. It is contemptible.


The PRESIDENT - Senator Ready appears to be dealing with a public matter, and if the figures which he proposes to supply are obtained from public documents I do not know of any rule which would prevent him from referring to them. I understand that it is a public matter with which he is dealing.


Senator Lt Colonel Cameron - As my name has been brought up, may I say that I am grateful to Senator Gould for haying spoken as he has done. But it is entirely a question of taste. In the circumstances, I shall leave Senator Ready to do as he pleases.


Senator READY - I will now resume. 1 am referring to the owner of one of the seven largest estates in Tasmania.


Senator Millen - The honorable senator might have put the matter in that way in the first instance.


Senator READY - I do not think that such fine points are worth straining about. I am sorry that honorable senators opposite have seen fit-


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - If any one discussed my affairs I should think it confoundedly impertinent and in extremely bad taste. It is contemptible.


Senator Rae - I rise to a point of order. Is Senator Gould in order in calling the action of Senator Ready contemptible? I take it that honorable gentlemen on the other side are deliberately offensive to this side, and it is time that they were stopped.


The PRESIDENT - I did not understand Senator Gould to make any such statement. I understood him to say that if any one referred to his private business he would consider it a contemptible act.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - That is what I said.


Senator READY - I do not intend to be personal in any way, or to say anything which would be ungentlemanly and of which I should be ashamed. But I claim the right to refer to any estate in Tasmania. As Senator Cameron gave one instance, I want to cite a particular estate, though not with any personal motives, and I do not intend to make any remark to which he can take the slightest exception. I trust that I shall not be further interrupted. This big estate has come prominently under my notice, because I have lived within striking distance of it, walked over it, and seen a good deal of it. I have not yet been caught trespassing upon it, and I hope that I never shall be. lt comprises a number of holdings which have been aggregated during a course of years. It includes the following holdings : - Fordon 6, 1 80 acres; York Park and Beverley, 5,090 acres; Barton, 3,940 acres; New Plains, 2,600 acres; Glen Morrison, 4,372 acres; agricultural area on Fordon, 151 acres; Winnburn. 1,350 acres; house and land on Fordon, 37 acres; Camperdown, 862 acres; Upper Camperdown, 2,085 acres ; Kingston, 1,241 acres; Camperdown, 338 acres; Hampden, 7,310 acres; Camperdown, 189, and 73 acres; and Kingston, 5,528 acres, making a total area of 42,696 acres, owned by the one person. According to the roll for 1908, the capital value was £120,000, and the average assessment £2 16s. 4d. per acre. Since then the assessment has gone up materially, and is now, I think, in the neighbourhood of £140,000, whilst the improved value, I think, will be about £100,000. I always feel sorry when Senator Cameron deals with defence, because when such fine estates as this one are carrying so few persons, I think it comes with ill grace from him to lay stress upon the necessity for defending Australia. I think that if he employs twenty-two men on the total area of 42,696 acres, from the point of view of defence, this is regrettable.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Cameron. - May I ask where the honorable senator got his information from?


Senator READY - I got my information from a reliable authority.


Senator Lt Colonel Cameron - Then let me tell the honorable senator that his reliable authority is absolutely unreliable. I deny that the figures are accurate.


Senator READY - I trust that I made myself clear on this point. I referred to the number of men employed permanently on the estate.


Senator Lt Colonel Cameron - If the honorable senator will inquire again, he will find that he is wrong.


Senator READY - I am absolutely convinced that the estate does not carry thirty men permanently.


Senator Lt Colonel Cameron .- Will the honorable senator apologize to the Senate if he finds that it does carry thirty men ?


Senator READY - If it carries thirty families permanently.


Senator Lt Colonel Cameron - No; if it carries thirty men. The honorable senator did not say thirty families, but thirty permanent working men


Senator READY - I shall apologize to the Senate if there are more than thirty men employed permanently on the estate.


Senator Lt Colonel Cameron - But if there are thirty ?


Senator READY - I do not wish to split straws over the matter. When I say that twenty-live years ago about thirty farmers with their families lived on the holdings comprised in this big estate, T trust that no honorable senator will contradict my statement. I consulted one of the most accurate informants whom I could find in the whole district. He told me that twentyfive years ago these Holdings carried thirtyfive families, and that much of the land is suitable for agriculture. I believe that any judge of farming or agricultural land in the district will confirm his statement. I understand that not more than 600 or 700 acres a year are farmed.


Senator Lt Colonel Cameron - The honorable senator is giving my place a good advertisement ; but I shall put the position accurately by saying that it contains. 4,000 acres of good agricultural land, the rest being a sheep walk. If the honorable senator can sell it for me as agricultural land, I give him carte blanche to do so. I cannot be fairer than that. That is a sporting offer, sir.


The PRESIDENT - Order ! The honorable senator asked to be heard in silence, and I invite him to extend like consideration to Senator Ready.


Senator Lt Colonel Cameron - I beg pardon, sir. The honorable senator was attacking me personally, and that is why I interrupted.


Senator READY - I am not attacking the honorable senator personally, but the system of land monopoly in Tasmania, citing this big estate as an instance of it. When the honorable senator asks for a cheap advertisement for his land, this is beside the question. Mr. Hogg has property situated in about the centre of this large estate. Last season his crop averaged 38 bushels of wheat to the acre and 45 bushels of oats to the acre. Mr. R. Fisher has a holding light in the centre of this large estate, and as he happens to be a family connexion, I can speak authoritatively. Last year he obtained 20 bushels of wheat per acre from 75 acres; 40 bushels of oats per acre from 12 acres; 2 tons of hay per acre from 30 acres ; and 30 bushels of peas per acre from 12 acres. Out of his area of 330 acres he cultivates from 130 to 150 acres, and carries a large number of sheep besides.

Although he is paying a rack-rent for that small holding, he is making it pay.


Senator Givens - Who is his landlord?


Senator Lt Colonel Cameron - His own cousin.


Senator READY - That does not enter into the question. Senator Cameron's estate is typical of many estates in Tasmania. If it were broken up, as I trust it will be after the land tax is imposed, it would support a very fine population, and then I am sure that Nile, a small township in the centre, would be a better place to live in. 1 admit that the land tax will be a very heavy impost. I find that the land tax on this large estate will come to about £1,500 for the Commonwealth and £600 or ,£700 for the State - that is £2,000 odd a year. The owner of a large estate like that should pay a land tax or allow some one else to use the land to better advantage. The land question is one of the greatest questions which the Labour party has had to face. The more history is studied the more it is found that the decline of any great nation has been attributable to the fact that either the wealth or the land had got into a few hands. When Babylon fell 2 per cent, of the people owned practically the whole of the wealth. It was the same in Egypt. In Persia 1 per cent, of the population owned practically all the land. When Rome went down 1,800 persons owned practically the known world.

When William the Conqueror took possession of England the land was distributed among his nobles, and the obligation which he imposed upon the nobles and overlords was not only to pay tax or tribute, but also to defend the country. They had to raise a certain number of archers and men-at-arms for service in the cause of their liege lord, as well as to pay tribute. Tracing English history up to the Middle Ages, we find that whilst land taxation continued the influence of the money-lenders came into play to a great extent. That necessitated the land-owners mortgaging their lands, and eventually the mortgagees got control of them. A few centuries ago the principle of land-owners raising troops for defence was done away with, and largely through the influence of the money-lenders. Coming to recent times, 1 have to deal with a delicate subject, and I hope that no one will accuse me of introducing personalities. As regards the manner in which land was acquired in Australia, we find some interesting information in the Commonwealth Year-Book. It is known to honorable senators that a good many million acres of land were acquired by that wretched system of free grants, which, I may remark, has been responsible for a great part of the land monopoly obtaining to-day. According to Knibbi -

The first instructions, issued on the 25th April, 1787, authorized the Governor to make grants only to liberated prisoners, but by further instructions issued by the Secretary of State in 1789, the privilege of obtaining grants was extended to free immigrants, and to such of the men belonging to the detachment of marines serving in New South Wales - which then included the whole of the eastern part of Australia - as were desirous of settling in the colony ; the maximum grant was not to exceed 100 acres, and was subject to a quit-rent of1s. per annum for every fifty acres, to be paid within five years of the date of issue.

Land sales were not introduced until 1825, and free grants were abolished in 1831. In Tasmania the same regulations were carried out until 1825, when it became a separate Colony -

In 1828 the first land sales in the island took place, but so low were the prices obtained that 70,000 acres enriched the Treasury by only £20,000. In the month of January, 1831, the system of issuing free grants of land was abolished.

It was not until 1831 that free grants were abolished.


Senator Rae - Has the honorable senator any figures to show the area covered by free grants issued in New South Wales ?


Senator READY - I have not. But I have the figures for Tasmania.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Cameron. - Surely free grants were issued in small areas much later than 1831 ?


Senator Millen - They are being issued to-day in Western Australia.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Cameron. - Up to 1860 I know that old soldiers were given grants of 100 acres.


Senator READY - Honorable senators who know anything of Tasmania must be aware that there were very great abuses in that State in the early days under the system of free grants. I have no doubt that they have heard of the " Scotch Thousand." In the early days, if a man could show that he was possessed of £1,000, he was entitled to receive so many acres of land free. One member of a family would give proof that he possessed £1,000, and would get so many thousand acres of land free. Then he passed the money on to another, who hanked it, and on exhibiting his bank-book also received a free grant of land. I am told that many thousands of acres of land were given to the people in that way. From a return tabled by order of the House of Assembly in Tasmania, I find that up to and including the year 1864 no less than 2,098,763 acres were given away in Tasmania. At the present time, out of a total area of 16,000,000, 6,500,000 have been sold or are held under lease. I ask honorable senators to note that one-third of the lands alienated in Tasmania were given away. James Fenton, who, it will be admitted, was not a political partizan, says in his history of Tasmania -

This system of free grants had a most pernicious influence on the progress of the Colony. It fostered the growth of large pastoral estates and discouraged the settlement of an industrious class of immigrants upon the soil to an extent which no subsequent measures could counteract, the grass-covered hills and open plains being closed to the agriculturist. To this cause may be ascribed almost the entire rural- suppression of immigration.

The genesis of the big estate was the free grant system. It is impossible for us to reconstruct our land laws, and until we get a better land system it will be impossible to remedy the evils of land monopoly. If we consider the Biblical system of land tenure we shall find that the system established by Moses, the great prophet of the Jews, was infinitely better in the interests of the people as a whole than our existing system. That grand old prophet Moses held before his people the grand ideal of a free people in a free land. He preached equal rights to the soil, and he based a system of agrarian and industrial justice upon a sabbatical series of years. Every seven years was a sabbatical year, and the year following each cycle of such years, covering a period of forty-nine years, was known as the year of jubilee. In the year of jubilee, all land acquired by purchase or other means reverted to the original owner. A man holding land at the time of Moses could not sell it for more than the period of years elapsing between the date of sale and the next jubilee year.


Senator Millen - And what happened to the Jewish nation ?


Senator READY - What happened to the Jewish nation was not the result of land monopoly, but was due to another cause altogether.


Senator Givens - The Almighty gave them a king as a punishment for their wickedness. That is what happened to them.


Senator READY - I am sorry that Senator Millen has not read his Bible to better purpose.


Senator Millen - I have read, sufficient of it to know that the honorable senator is misrepresenting its obvious lesson.


Senator READY - No; I think the Biblical system of land tenure was one which might be adopted in the Commonwealth to-day with advantage. I refer honorable senators to the system in operation in China, which is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. China has a population of 400,000,000. There are no large estates in China, for the simple reason that they have a system of hereditary family tenure, under which no man is permitted to will away the whole of his property. He is at liberty to will away only so much of it as would be represented by one part if it were divided into a number of parts equal to the number of his children. Consequently, every young man in China knows that when he comes of age there will be a certain area of land available for him ; and it is by this means that China is able to support her enormous population. We find that the most prosperous nations are those which have good land laws. This is one of the reasons why the Federal Labour party are hastening to bring about a better system of land tenure in Australia. I take the case of Denmark, which is one of the most densely-populated countries of Europe. A British-Australian who visited that country a little time ago went very carefully into its land laws ; and I quote the following as the result of his inquiries -

Small holdings, education, co-operation, and untaxed grain and cake for feeding stock have combined to make the Danish countryside produce a maximum of wealth. The soil is far less fertile than that of England ; there are millions of acres of Australian soil infinitely more fertile lying virtually derelict to-day. But the land is tilled as a garden, and, despite its poor quality and climatic disadvantages, a wonderfully high level of comfort has been arrived at.I found the peasant with his three acres and three cows possessed of such a homestead as will not be found on many Australian farms of hundreds of acres. The peasant with fifty acres T found with a home that many a squatter would envy. What in Denmark inspires great hopes for the future is the fact that the peasant, the tiller of the soil, the owner of from three to 100 acres, is the man who leads in all things, and who has made this small nation the most prosperous and enlightened in Europe. And be it remembered that the ancestors of these men a little more than 100 years ago were bondsmen, the serfs of the lords of the manors.

At the outset, it may be emphatically stated that the peasants have worked out their own salvation, and have asked and obtained little or nothing from Governments. When the peasants were freed from feudal bondage at the beginning of last century they were animated with the desire to possess their own holdings, and the great proprietors were not averse to sell, to which fact the heavy land tax imposed in the forties no doubt contributed. To-day the 9,310,000 acres of Denmark are divided into 260,000 properties, of which 114,079 are below 6¼ acres in extent. If by making land available so great a change can be wrought in so short a time as that which separates the Danish peasant of to-day from the serf of a century ago, what a wondrous change this century is to witness in Australia as the landless men are settled on the manless acres.

I take the following from the Year-Book of New Zealand -

The average size of holdings above 10,000 acres in New Zealand declined during the period stated as follows : -

 

That will give some idea of the great de cline in the number of large estates since the imposition of the New Zealand land tax. This further statement is made -

It would appear from the above that there has been a reduction in the total held in areas of 10,000 and over of 2,797,658 acres during the period 1889-1906. Purchases by Government contributed to this result, but only to the extent of about one-third, voluntary subdivision accounting for the balance. The average held by owners of 10,000 acres and upwards shows a steady decrease since 1889.

It will be admitted, from these figures, that the land tax in New Zealand has had a remarkable result. If honorable senators require further evidence on the subject,I refer them to the statement made only the other day in Sydney, to a representative of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, by Mr. George Fowlds, the Minister of Education in New Zealand. He said -

In my opinion, the tax on unimproved land values and the municipal land tax have been very important factors in the steady prosperity of New Zealand for a great many years past. We have a tax as high as 6d. in the £1 on large estates, and it exercises a steady influence in preventing land speculation, because, to some extent, it takes the large holders out of competition, since with each few thousand pounds they add to their properties the rate for the whole is increased. Then there is a stiff absentee tax on top of that. I don't know how far it has reduced the absentee holding, but I believe it has had a substantial effect in that direction. It will absolutely prevent the growing up of an absentee land-owning class.

We have heard a good deal as to the disaster which will follow the imposition of the proposed Federal land tax. We are told that it represents confiscation and robbery, and one honorable senator has to-day gone so far as to say that it means plunder. We are invited to believe that it will ruin people, that it will crush the small man, and will throw people out of employment. It will not throw many out of employment on the big estates of Australia. I think there are only about 2,000 permanently employed by the pastoral industry in Tasmania ; and if they were all thrown out of work at once, the effect would not be very serious.


Senator Rae - They only get about £30 a year each.


Senator READY - As my honorable friend reminds me, the wages they receive are very low. In reply to the statement about confiscation and plunder, I quote the remarks of Mr. David Barclay, the manager of the Commercial Bank of Tasmania, at the last meeting of the shareholders of the bank. He was asked, by ex-Senator Dobson, whether the proposed Federal land tax would not result in a great depreciation of the dividends paid by the bank, which 1 believe is one of the best-managed banking institutions in Tasmania. This was Mr. Barclay's reply -

We do not need to worry about the new tax; neither the Commonwealth notes nor the land tax will, I think, prevent us paying the same dividend in the future as we are doing to-day.

It is evident, therefore, that the banks will continue to pay the same dividends that they have hitherto paid.


Senator Millen - Why should not they do so?


Senator READY - But my honorable friends have been picturing the desolation which will fall upon the land as the result of this tax. After all, bank dividends are a very fair index to the prosperity of the country. In speaking at a meeting of the Squatting Investment Company, Senator Fraser is reported to have said-


Senator Millen - That is a company which the Labour party were careful not to tax under this Bill.


Senator READY - I can assure the Leader of the Opposition that if the Labour party finds it necessary to tax that company, it will face its obligations courageously.


Senator Millen - The Government proposed to tax other persons courageously, but they courageously dropped their proposal.


Senator READY - I do not think we have displayed any lack of courage. Senator Fraser, in addressing a meeting of the Squatting Investment Company, said - lt was to be hoped that Parliament would have too much common-sense and honesty to do such a deliberate and gross injustice to a section of the people as was proposed by the Government.

But we have sufficient courage to stick to our guns, notwithstanding that dire pronouncement.


The PRESIDENT - Do I understand that the honorable senator is quoting from a newspaper, remarks made by another honorable senator in regard to the Bill which is now under consideration?


Senator READY - Yes. Quite a number of petitions have been presented to the Senate protesting against the imposition of the proposed tax, with a view to creating the impression that a great agitation has been raised against it. But those petitions have usually borne only about half-a-dozen signatures, so that the section which is endeavouring to create so much fuss is only a small one.


Senator Millen - Because it is a small section the Government are going to make it pay?


Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould -And because its members are not supporters of the Labour party.


Senator READY - Some of diem are supporters of our party. I know of one large land-owner in Tasmania who is possessed of considerably more than £5,000 worth of unimproved land values, and who is a very warm supporter of the Labour party. A friend of mine, writing from Ellendale, says -

A petition is being taken round to the people here protesting against the Federal land tax. Some one must be doing a bit of " leg-pulling," as there is not one farmer who has ground to the value of £5,000 in Ellendale, and the small piece of ground that is owned by the farmers here has to be cultivated for all it is worth for the owners to make a bare living. It is a case of getting all the names they can, and many would sign without understanding thoroughly what they were signing for.

I come now to the question which has been raised by the Leader of the Opposition in connexion with municipal or shire councils. He dealt with the ability of shire and municipal councils to tax land effectively.

Now one of the greatest complaints heard in Tasmania is that the municipalities there have not assessed land effectively. During my election campaign I drew attention to very gross cases of under-valuation, cases in which estates worth £7 or £8 per acre had been valued as low as £3 and £4 per acre. Go where one may in Tasmania he will find instances of under-valuation, not in connexion with small but with large holdings. Senator O'Keefe can confirm my statement. Quite recently a revaluation was made of the whole of the lands of Tasmania upon an unimproved and improved basis. If we take the chief pastoral portions of the State, we shall find some striking figures in reference to undervaluations.


Senator Lt Colonel Cameron - Has the honorable senator the new assessment?


Senator READY - I have portions of it relating to the pastoral areas of Tasmania, and I hope to be able to show that in the past the large land-holders have escaped taxation owing to faulty administration. For instance, in the district of Bruny, the old assessment was £45,200, whereas the new assessment is £68,079. I" Brighton, the capital value of the lands was set down last year at ,£419,868, but the recent valuation is £472,573. In the Ellendale district, last year's capital value of the lands was ,£700,346, whereas the new valuation is ,£748,618. In Georgetown, last year's valuation was £104,584, whereas the new valuation is ,£1 12,295. i-n Glenorchy last year's valuation was £475,503, and the new valuation is £645,970. Similarly in the district of Green Ponds, last year's valuation was £229,695, whereas the new valuation is £258,783. In Glamorgan, the valuation last year was £133,928, whereas this year it is £153,561. In Launceston, the valuation made last year was £2,930,389, whereas the new valuation is

£3!279;901-


Senator Millen - What interval elapsed between the two valuations?


Senator READY - There was practically no interval, because in Tasmania the valuations are made yearly by the local authority.


Senator Lt Colonel Cameron - I think that the increase in the valuation in the Ellendale district is a little misleading, because there has been a big alteration in that area.


Senator Millen - There are districts in New South Wales in which there has been a difference of 50 per cent, in the value of land during the past few years.


Senator READY - I am quite aware of that, but the cases which I am citing evidence bad administration - administration in the interests of one class. In the Lillydale district, the valuation last year was £293,359, whereas the new valuation is £362,136. In the Newtown district, the valuation last year was £483,160, whereas this year it is £562,391. In Portland, the valuation last year was .£83,049, but this year it is £100,101. In Richmond, the valuation last year was £309,868, whereas this year it is £336,370. In the Sorrel district last year's valuation was £349, 846, whereas the new valuation is £351,790. So that in all the pastoral districts of Tasmania, marked increases have occurred under the new .valuation. For years past these large estates have enjoyed such a good innings that if we could only exact from them what they owe to the State the amount would run into four or five figures. During the course of his remarks. Senator Cameron challenged the accuracy of a statement regarding the position of affairs which obtains in Tasmania. I therefore propose to embody it in Hansard. In Tasmania, there are 416 persons who own mole than half as much land as do 16,279 persons.


Senator Millen - Where did the honorable senator obtain his figures?


Senator READY - From Tasmanian official sources.


Senator Millen - We have asked for them, and have been told that we could not get them.


Senator READY - The figures which I am quoting are official.


Senator McGregor - They relate to improved, and not to unimproved land values.


Senator READY - Of the 416 persons who will pay the land tax in Tasmania, 335 own land of an unimproved value of £2,684,397, and 83, or J per cent., own land of an unimproved value of £2,630:346. There are 16,279 estates valued at under £5,000. These represent an unimproved value to the extent of £9,247,257.. Then there are 418 estates of more than £5,000 unimproved value, and these aggregate a value of .£5,314,743- There are 63 estates ranging in value from £15,000 to £30,000, 7 ranging in value from £30,000 to .£.50,000, an equal number ranging in value from £50,000 to £80,000, and 6 exceeding a value of £80,000. The Tasmanian Government, in its latest schedule of public works, proposes an expenditure of £[440,000, including £[128,000, which is to be spent upon roads in newly settled districts. These roads will add considerably to the value of the lands of Tasmania. The Tasmanian Government propose to construct these public works, and they have also the good sense to tax land upon its unimproved basis, altogether apart from the Federal impost. There is just another matter with which I should like to deal before I conclude my remarks. That is a statement made by the Leader of the Opposition with reference to the proposals of the Labour party to raise revenue from land taxation. He maintained, as I judge, that the proposal of this party was to obtain more and more revenue every year from land taxation. I should like to show that the amount of money raised in the Commonwealth from land taxation has been a decreasing, instead of an increasing, quantity. The total amount of land taxation in the Commonwealth in 1901-2 was £522,721., or 3s. 9d. per head. The amount in 1908-9 was £351,282, or is. 7$d. per head. In New Zealand, however, the land taxation in 1901-2 was £312,835, or 7s. nd. per head, whereas in 1908-9 the land taxation in New Zealand was £604,901, or 12s. ;d. per head. The total taxation of the Commonwealth in 1901-2 was £11,540,964, or £3 os. 6d. per head, whilst in 1908-9 the total taxation was £14,356,422, or £3 7s. 2d. per head. In New Zealand the total taxation in 1901-2 was £3,"3.-°79> °r £3 I9S- 7<3. per head, whilst in 1908-9 it was £4,377,761, or £4 us. 2d. per head. Whilst, therefore, the amount of revenue raised from land taxation in the Commonwealth has decreased, the total raised from other sources of revenue has increased. We intend to make up some leeway by the taxation of land values on an unimproved basis, this policy being justifiable, not only from the revenue point of view, but also from the point of view of the interests of the Commonwealth at large. It will be interesting to quote a short statement made some time ago by the Right Honorable Alexander Ure, K.C., M.P., Lord Advocate of Scotland, in which he summarized six reasons for taxing land values, in the following fashion -

1.   The land comes from the hands of the Creator and does not owe its existence to man.

2.   It is limited in quantity. You can no more add to the area of the country than you can add a cubit to your stature.

3.   It is necessary for our existence ; it is necessary for our production; it is necessary to us when we wish to exchange our products.

4.   Land does not owe its value to anything which its owner chooses to spend upon it.

5.   Land owes its value entirely to the presence and activity and expenditure of the community.

6.   Land cannot be carried away, and cannot be concealed.


Senator St Ledger - Where did the honorable senator get the quotation from?


Senator READY - From a speech delivered in the other House.


Senator St Ledger - It is a wonderful thing that a Lord Advocate of Scotland should utter such stuff.


Senator Millen - Was he addressing ar» infant class?


Senator READY - The supporters of the policy justified by " such stuff " seem to be increasing in this country, as witness the results of die elections on 13th April. The people recognise that the prosperity of this country depends on free access being secured to the lands. I think that Herbert Spencer, in his Social Statics - I forget the page - said - " Every man has equal freedom to do whatever he will, provided he does not infringe the equal freedom of his fellow-man."


Senator Millen - Provided he is not a member of the Labour party 1


Senator READY - We do not take so narrow a view as the honorable senator does. We say that every man has equal rights before the law, and should have equal rights in respect to land. We wish as far as possible to break up the land monopoly, which has resulted in the fact that this great country contains only four and a-half millions of people, and which has kept my State in a condition of stagnation for over twenty years. Tasmania should be the most prominent and thriving State, in proportion to size, in the whole Commonwealth. We have God's own. country, but we have had the devil's own legislation in the past. We are now looking to the Federal Parliament for relief, and I am glad to say that the people will not look to us in vain. Already there is a movement in the direction of subdivision in Tasmania. Some of our finest estates are being broken up for closer settlement. I believe that the estate of the honorable senator who has now left the chamber will before long be made available to the people in a manner which will not embarrass the Government. It is well known that the State Governments have re-purchased £4,500,000 worth of land. That is a policy to which the Labour party cannot subscribe as a cure for the present land evil. We believe that the better system is to impose taxation on the large estates, to discourage the non-use and misuse of land, and to encourage the settlement of a rural population. By that means Australia will make progress, and my State will attain the position to which she is entitled. Ours is a policy that will result, in my opinion, in Labour administration being maintained for many years to come.







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